The Losail International Circuit's pitlane entry has undergone a significant change ahead of Formula 1's upcoming first visit to the venue in Qatar.
The peninsula Arab country will host its maiden F1 Grand Prix next month after being added to the sport's 2021 calendar in the wake of several event cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Losail – a fixture on MotoGP's calendar since 2004 - holds an FIA Grade 1 licence which has made it eligible for F1. However, a visit last summer by FIA race director Michael Masi revealed a need for several minor track changes, but also a complete revamp of the circuit's pitlane netry.
"What was the pitlane entry for bikes will change dramatically," said Masi, quoted by The Race. "That work is nearly completed. I’ll head there again next weekend, prior to Austin, to have a look, but nearly all the works have been completed.
"There’s a number of double kerbs that have been installed. The circuit is ostensibly a bike circuit, so apex sausages, so people don’t cut corners on the inside, and double kerbs on exits [have been added].
"There’s a significant number of barrier upgrades with regards to TecPro tyres around the entire venue. Pitlane entry’s probably the biggest actual track change."
Losail isn't the only venue shared by MotoGP and Formula 1, with bikes also racing at Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring and at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
However, Losail's 5.3 km layout which features a majority of medium speed corners isn't expected to produce a thrilling spectacle for F1 due to its potential lack of overtaking opportunities according to teams which have simulated the design.
"There are big run-offs there but obviously the big parts have been safety requirements for bikes," added Masi.
"When it comes to TecPro barriers, things like that is of a very different ilk in the MotoGP or the FIM world.
"So it’s been trying to adapt in a relatively short period, which is the other part that we need to consider – that we’re not talking about a huge period of time.
"The main one has probably been the pit entry from that side, but garages, paddock space and things like that were all fine.
"From a circuit end, I think it’ll be a good little venue for this year."
Formula 1 won't return to Losail in 2022 as the country will be engulfed in FIFA's World Cup. But as a reminder, Qatar has signed a ten-year deal with Formula 1 from 2023.
This year's event will kick off a three-race run for F1 in the Middle-East, with Saudi Arabia's Jeddah and Abu Dhabi following Qatar and rounding off the season.